Laura Mooney is vice president of corporate communications for Metastorm – a global leader in enterprise architecture, business process analysis, and business process management software. In this role, Laura is responsible for worldwide corporate communications and leads all efforts related to corporate positioning, creative messaging, brand development, marketing communications, social media strategy, public relations and industry analyst programs.
Laura has over 18 years of experience in the technology marketing field. She has held corporate and product marketing leadership positions with companies such as Manugistics, OutReach Technologies and IBM, in addition to starting and running her own marketing consulting firm. She is a frequent speaker at industry events and has published numerous articles, podcasts, and eBooks.
Laura holds a BBA degree in Information Systems from James Madison University and an MBA degree with a Marketing concentration from the University of Maryland, Smith School of Business.
There’s been a lot of movement in the vendor space in the last 6 months, with M&A activity internally and Pega acquiring Chordiant to broaden its overall strategy, do you envisage more of the same in 2010?
We do think this trend will continue. The BPM market is a hot space and many large companies that are not well-positioned in it are looking to make acquisitions of pure-play BPM vendors to get into the game. In addition, as more large vendors enter the market, it makes it harder for the really small niche players to survive, hence making them more vulnerable to acquisition. Metastorm has long employed M&A a key component of its growth strategy. With 4 acquisitions in the past 6 years (CommerceQuest, Proforma, Process Competence and Spotlight Data), Metastorm has been able to broaden its overall strategy from just BPM to a full-scale enterprise platform for enterprise and business architecture, business process analysis, and business process management – enabling us to address the full strategy-analysis-execution lifecycle. This evolution has not only enabled us to compete more effectively in the BPM market (offering a new-age BPMS, so to speak), but it has also given us access to new markets.
2009 was seen as a fairly turbulent for most but towards the end year many kicked off major change programs focused on process transformation. How do you expect 2010 will unfold for the BPM industry generally and for BPM Vendors?
We are definitely seeing a trend toward broader business transformation efforts – which in turn are leading to increased demand for business process analysis and BPM technologies. I think that 2010 will be a good year for the BPM industry. There are numerous success stories out there (Metastorm alone has over 120 case studies/video success stories posted on its website), so that proven success is going to help ease the way for mainstream adoption. And while the mainstream is finally getting on board, the early adopters are becoming more innovative and strategic in their use of BPM, and they are leveraging that to their advantage to be leaders in their respective industries. BPM vendors that have solid, proven, scalable products should do quite well. We are finding demand for our BPM suite as a standalone offering to be growing, and we are also seeing accelerating demand for the full Metastorm Enterprise portfolio (EA, BPA and BPM).
Do you expect clients to alter their buying criteria as a result of the downturn and concentrate on initial cost first rather than ROI or indeed the need for BPM itself to support strategy?
We have always encouraged our prospects/customers to engage in proof of concepts to accelerate the building of an accurate business case and to have more confidence in the BPM solution they select. I think that is even more important now as organizations are scrutinizing new investments more carefully. But in general, I think the downturn made the need for BPM more evident and provided the motivation that some organizations needed to get a BPM initiative off the ground. Cost cutting will remain a driving factor, but post-downturn regulations and the need to win back customer confidence are also strong business drivers for purchasing or expanding use of BPM.
What’s your philosphy and definition of BPM?
Over the past few years the traditional understanding of BPM has changed dramatically. It’s no longer a matter of just automating existing business processes. Across the board we are seeing companies realize that BPM gives them the opportunity to do things better. Metastorm was a thought leader in helping move the market toward this change. We have over the years evolved our BPM solution into a complete business process management suite – encompassing a wide range of technologies that support the full spectrum of process management including monitoring, managing, integrating, and deploying processes across an organization – with an emphasis on enabling real-time, “roundtrip” process improvements by leveraging a combination of process modeling, simulation, and execution technologies that are all orchestrated through a single BPM solution interface. We remain one of the only vendors to provide a robust solution for both human and system-based processes, and we have expanded our implementation services to include Metastorm Process Pods®– turnkey solution kits designed to get specific vertical and operational processes up and running quickly and successfully for an even faster return on investment.
In addition, the addition of Metastorm ProVision to our portfolio almost 3 years ago, gives us the ability to address a broader overall business improvement/business transformation lifecycle that our competitors cannot address. Today, our customers are getting real value from enterprise architecture – which enables them to gain that “big picture” view of their operations (systems, data, organization, processes, goals), and business process analysis – which enables them to take the information captured by the architecture and analyze related business processes to identify areas for improvement – be it bottlenecks, wasted resources, excess overhead, or duplications of effort. With enterprise architecture and business process analysis, combined with business process management, organizations can now see and understand the across-the-board impact of change prior to implementation to ensure that they are, in fact, making the right changes and evolving the organization in a way that will truly meets strategic objectives.
With these broader capabilities, the value of BPM goes beyond automation – although those same benefits – increased agility, productivity and efficiency – still hold true. Our broader view of BPM also enables organizations to make sure that those strategic changes are being enforced, and facilitates further optimization because, as it captures process data, the organization can go back and say, “Ok, these are our results; how can we do this even better?” Thus BPM offers a mechanism for continuous process improvement, and a way for organizations to ensure that, no matter what the market may throw at them, they can quickly respond and adjust to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
And what’s the difference between ‘traditional’ BPM and Lean BPM?
With traditional BPM organizations are looking to improve their processes, and along the way find that they are generating greater efficient and cutting out unnecessary activities and other “clutter” (e.g paper). With Lean BPM, on the other hand, an organization’s main focus is to de-clutter the enterprise and cut out waste – and in doing so, they often consequentially improve processes.
Companies instituting Lean BPM are saying, “How can we cut out all this heavy bulk and waste?” It’s kind of like spring cleaning – that moment where you realize that your house is so cluttered that you’re not even sure what your floor looks like anymore. I think during the recession, a lot of organizations realized that they couldn’t see their floors – and because of that they were at a disadvantage. So now they are looking to cut out all this clutter, and with BPM they are finding a great tool to orchestrate their Lean efforts.
From the other perspective, most organizations that are implementing traditional BPM strictly for process optimization (and are not really thinking about Lean per se) are asking a different question – “How can we improve our day-to-day operations?” This may included increased efficiency and less overhead and waste, but it also includes a focus on accomplishing other strategic objectives – like greater agility, better customer service, uncovering new revenue opportunities, achieving and maintaining compliance, instilling governance, etc. This usually begins on a small scale, with a handful of key processes, and then mushrooms to include processes across the entire enterprise.
Ultimately I think the fundamental difference between traditional BPM and Lean BPM is the main goal or driver behind the initiative, or the main problem that an organization is looking to solve. In fact, Lean BPM might just be one focus area within a broader BPM effort (which may be more oriented toward holistic business transformation). The end result for both BPM and Lean BPM projects, however, is that the organization is running with more agility, flexibility, and an overall heightened level of efficiency – for both approaches this is a continuous effort, and BPM is very conducive to this.
How important is it for vendors to foster a client and practitioner community?
I think it is critical to long-term growth and leadership. Our clients find great value in networking and having access to a broad range of Metastorm resources. Programs like regional user groups, our annual global user conference, online discussion groups and Metastorm certification training programs have proven to be very valuable in building a global network of skilled, experienced Metastorm clients and practitioners. These practitioners in turn become spokespeople for the value of Metastorm’s software which helps extend the use of BPM within enterprises and also helps create buzz that leads to new business opportunities for Metastorm.
An article in Forrester talked about turning to the process professionals more in 2010 and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant underwent a makeover in how they approached their analysis last year. Do you still see a need for the kind of high brow research which is perceived to be vendor led/ driven given the rise of independent professional blogs and insight columns?
I think that Gartner and Forrester will always play a role in advising large organizations on technology buying decisions. Many organizations view the Gartner Magic Quadrant as the go-to starting point for evaluating new technology investments. However, it is clear that well-written, well-researched blog sites are gaining followers, and business/technology insight columns offer additional perspectives to consider. The challenge with online content (across the board) is that buyers need to take the time to cut through all of the noise to identify the most accurate sources of information and the most informed opinions, and this not always an easy task.
There’s a shift towards Cloud offerings, Social BPM fever is starting to take hold after a few years in the wilderness and some are venturing into the Mobile space, are these viable roadmaps for vendors to look into or just hype for now?
Metastorm is doing all of the above, so I do see value in all of them. Customers have been using the Metastorm BPM BlackBerry app for years, and we have a new iPhone app coming out this June (courtesy of our partner, BTI). Mobile access to critical information and the ability to take action on key process items from anywhere at any time adds to the agility that BPM delivers, so I think mobility is high-value. We are also unveiling a new cloud-enabled modeling offering this month at our Global User Conference which will open up access to the most popular of our modeling types (not just process models!) to the masses – both for new model creation and annotation and collaboration on existing models. But it is important to note that this new Cloud offering will be tightly integrated to our enterprise software suite. We have seen many of our competitors fail to do that effectively, so while they got some early hype from doing something in the Cloud, its business value was not that great in terms of enterprise impact. As for Social BPM, I think that elements of social collaboration will benefit certain aspects of process analysis and real-time decision-making during process execution. The key for buyers is to understand that all of these areas are valuable, but NOT at the expense of forgoing a solid, scalable, full-featured BPM offering. You need the proven foundation to deliver the most value – the other stuff is just icing on the cake.
If there was one thing you could tell someone who is just starting out on the BPM journey what would it be?
Start with a core process that has the potential to deliver tremendous value from being automated and improved, define the scope clearly and stick to it, and then market the heck out of the results internally so that it drives demand for further BPM efforts and creates excitement and momentum for business process improvement throughout the organization. Too many people try to pick a “safe” admin process, get distracted by scope creep, or operate in stealth mode so they don’t get shut down – what’s the point? Go for it and really deliver value to your organization and value to your career.
What’s the next big thing you would like to see happening in BPM?
I’d like to see a Metastorm IPO.J
Finally, what next for Metastorm?
You will see some big announcements from Metastorm in 2010 – including some cool new product innovations that leverage the cloud, social collaboration and mashups to align the EA, BPA and BPM disciplines even more effectively. And you never know what we might do on the acquisition front – we are continually exploring opportunities to broaden our software suite and bring in complementary capabilities that will further extend the value we provide to our customers. So stay tuned.